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26. Girls, Women, Moms, and Poetry

It's time again to pause and celebrate women-- particularly the contributions of mothers-- on Mother's Day (on Sunday in the U.S.). When I lived in Zimbabwe many moons ago, they had a saying, "Educate a woman and you educate a nation." I always loved that and the power it suggests girls and women have in promoting a love of learning. This year, I'll be away on Mother's Day, talking about poetry (and science) at the IRA convention on Sunday (a fun way to celebrate, IMO!). But if you're looking for poetry about moms, here's a bib from my Poetry Teacher's Book of Lists. Read, write, or share a poem with a woman you admire this weekend!

I also highly recommend a new novel in verse out this year, Caminar, by new poet Skila Brown. It's set in Guatemala in 1981 when conflicts between Communist soldiers and guerilla fighters were at a crossroads.

The love of a mother for her son is a beautiful thread throughout this powerful story of war, courage, and survival.

(BrownSkila. 2014. Caminar. Somerville, MA: Candlewick.)

Poetry Books about Mothers

What better tribute for a mother, aunt or grandmother than a well-chosen poem? Poets have given us words with which to honor the women in our lives with the following selected books for young readers. 

Atkins, Jeannine. 2010. Borrowed Names; Poems About Laura Ingalls Wilder, Madam C. J. Walker, Marie Curie, and Their Daughters. Henry Holt.
Castillo, Ana. 2000. My Daughter, My Son, the Eagle, the Dove: An Aztec Chant. New York: Dutton.
Clinton, Catherine. Ed. 2003. A Poem of Her Own; Voices of American Women Yesterday and Today. New York: Abrams. 
Coyne, Rachel. 1998. Daughter Have I Told You? New York: Henry Holt.
Dotlich, Rebecca Kai. 2004. Mama Loves. New York: HarperCollins.
Fletcher, Ralph. 1999. Relatively Speaking: Poems about Family. New York: Orchard.
Grimes, Nikki. 1999. Hopscotch Love: A Family Treasury of Love Poems. New York: Lothrop, Lee & Shepard.
Grimes, Nikki. 2000. Stepping out with Grandma Mac. New York: Simon & Schuster.
Hoberman, Mary Ann. 1993. Fathers, Mothers, Sisters, Brothers: A Collection of Family Poems. New York: Puffin Books. 
Hoberman, Mary Ann. 2009. All Kinds of Families. New York: Little, Brown.
Hopkins, Lee Bennett. Ed. 2005. Days to Celebrate: A Full Year of Poetry, People, Holidays, History, Fascinating Facts, and More. New York: Greenwillow.
Hopkins, Lee Bennett. 1995. Been to Yesterdays: Poems of a Life. Honesdale, PA: Wordsong/Boyds Mills.
Hollyer, Belinda. 2003. Ed. The Kingfisher Book of Family Poems. New York: Kingfisher.
Lewis, J. Patrick. 2005. Vherses: A Celebration of Outstanding Women. Mankato, MN: Creative Editions.
Livingston, Myra Cohn. Ed. 1988. Poems for Mothers. New York: Holiday House.
McCall, Guadalupe Garcia. 2011. Under the Mesquite. New York: Lee & Low.
Micklos, John Jr. 2001. Mommy Poems. Honesdale, PA : Wordsong/Boyds Mills.
Mora, Pat. 1994. The Desert is My Mother/El Desierto es Mi Madre. Houston, TX: Pinata Books.
Mora, Pat. 2001. Ed. Love to Mamá: a Tribute to Mothers. New York: Lee & Low Books.
Myers, Walter Dean. 1998. Angel to Angel: a Mother’s Gift of Love. New York: HarperCollins.
Nye, Naomi Shihab. Ed. 1992. This Same Sky: A Collection of Poems from Around the World. New York: Four Winds Press.
Rosenberg, Liz. 2001. Ed. Roots & Flowers: Poets and Poems on Family. New York: Henry Holt.
Smith, Hope Anita. 2009. Mother; Poems. New York: Henry Holt.
Strickland, Dorothy S. and Michael R. Strickland. Ed. 1994. Families: Poems Celebrating the African-American Experience. Honesdale, PA: Wordsong/Boyds Mills.
Thomas, Joyce Carol. 2001. A Mother’s Love: Poems for us to Share. New York: Joanna Cotler.
Walker, Rob D. 2009. Mama Says: A Book of Love For Mothers and Sons. Ill. by Leo and Diane Dillon. New York: Scholastic. 
Wong. Janet S. 1999. The Rainbow Hand: Poems about Mothers and Children. New York: McElderry.
Yolen, Jane and Heidi E.Y. Stemple. 2001. Dear Mother, Dear Daughter: Poems for Young People.  Honesdale, PA: Wordsong/Boyds.

Now head on over Jama's place (Jama's Alphabet Soup) for the Poetry Friday celebration. And if you're in New Orleans, come to our poetry session on Sunday (Mother's Day) at 11 in the Convention Center room 274!

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27. Poet to Poet: Laura Purdie Salas and Nikki Grimes

I am excited to feature another installment in my ongoing Poet to Poet series. I'm trying to connect two poets, one interviewing the other about her/his new book. Our latest pairing features Laura Purdie Salas, author of Stampede,  BookSpeak!, and her latest, Water Can Be, who interviewed NCTE Poetry Award winner, Nikki Grimes who has a new book out this Fall, Poems in the Attic. Once again, I challenged them to pitch and respond to three questions-- enjoy!

Laura Purdie Salas interviews Nikki Grimes

Laura asks: You create and reveal such intimate, realistic characters in your poetry collections and novels in verse.  How do you decide which moments in a character's life to write poems about?

Nikki responds: Story.  It's all about story.  Whatever understanding of the character is needed to move the story forward, support it, or ground it drives my choices.  A poem might be needed to create back-story, or to explain the emotional state of the character, or to establish the story arc.  Whatever the case, it is always Story that drives my choices.

Laura asks:  I know you have a new book coming out:  Poems in the Attic. Would you be willing to briefly walk us through the stages it went through, from inspiration to finished manuscript? I'd love to know what your main goal was in each step along the way.

Nikki responds: I'd been thinking about how large a population of young people we now have among us who have parents serving in the military.  Their experience, and the emotional needs that go along with it, are so specific.  I think I'm especially sensitive to the difficulties of constantly being moved around, as a child, because I was, myself, though for very different reasons.  I wondered if I might be able to suggest, through story, a positive way in which military brats might cope with this constant upheaval.  I wondered if, for instance, a child were to catalog his or her experiences, through journaling or writing poetry, if that might be a powerful tool for their survival—because the soldiers aren't the only ones who need to survive.  The wives and children do, too.

I have many friends who were military brats, and I'd heard some of their stories about growing up, and so I began asking them to share more of those stories with me.  I conducted interviews with several of them, both in person, and via email.  I also reached out to the military brat community on Facebook, and elicited a couple of stories from people, there, as well.  Once I had maybe 20-30 such stories, I began to structure the larger story my poems, based on their stories, would fit into.

Since I was drawing from stories that stretched back, in some cases, 20 years ago, I had the idea to use a multi-generational approach to my story, itself.  And so, imagined a little girl visiting her grandmother, and discovering in her grandmother's attic, a cache of poems written by her mother when her mom was a little girl.  I wanted to incorporate the voices of both mother and child, and so I set up paired poems, one by the girl, written in free verse, that would introduce the poems written by her mother, which would be in the form of tanka poetry.  It is a story-within-a-story, an approach I especially like, probably because I find it challenging.  I'm always up for a good challenge!

Laura asks:  On a technical level, line breaks really interest me, and teachers ask a lot of questions about them.  I'd love to hear your take on this.  How do you decide where to break lines? Is it based on meaning, where you want the reader to pause (if you even do want the reader to pause), how it looks on the page, or something different?  Could you share a poem and explain why you chose to break the lines where you did?

Nikki responds: My choice in line breaks is always about meaning, and pauses.  I want the reader to pause where I, as the poet, paused.  How it looks on the page is secondary, although it becomes important if I have two lines that rhyme, and I want the rhymes to fall at the end of each line.  Then, I will break the lines accordingly.  Otherwise, I might choose to keep the rhyming word as an internal rhyme, and wait on the line-break.

In "Wishful Thinking" from Words With Wings, a four-line poem, I chose the first line-break to create a pause:

"I've figured it out:"

By breaking here, I cause the reader to stop and ask, "Figured what out?"  Of course, I will answer that question in the next few lines.

The second line-break creates a pause, and sets up a rhyming scheme, while the third line-break creates contrast between mom and dad:

Mom wants me to be
less like Dad,
more like she.


>>> Look for Nikki’s lovely Words With Wings published by Boyds Mills Press and available now. 

Thank you, Laura and Nikki, for sharing so generously!

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28. ALSC Institute: Poetry and Science

One more science + poetry plug!

The 2014 ALSC National Institute is scheduled for September 18 - 20, 2014 in Oakland, California and I'll be making the trek there to present with a fantastic panel of poets. Our focus? Science and poetry, of course! Here's the lowdown:

The Science of Poetry and the Poetry of Science: Helping Children Make Connections

Presenters:
Margarita Engle
Susan Blackaby
Janet Wong
Sylvia Vardell

Description:
This session will present poetry that incorporates science content plus practical strategies for implementation. Poetry offers the special language, imagery, and conciseness that introduces or reinforces important science concepts and terminology. We can encourage children to think like a poet and a scientist in carefully observing the world around them using all their senses, maintaining an avid curiosity about how things work, and gathering “big words” and key vocabulary in their reading and their writing. 

We'll be presenting TWICE:
Thursday, Sept. 18 at 10:45-11:45am
and 
Saturday, Sept. 20 at 9:15-10:15am

We'll be talking about a variety of science-themed poetry books and instructional strategies and will provide a poetry bibliography and plenty of freebies! Mark your calendar and plan to attend.

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29. STEM Forum & Expo: A + STEM Connects Literacy and Science

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Here's a funny story...

I submitted a proposal to the upcoming STEM conference which will be held in New Orleans immediately following the International Reading Association conference. This is officially called the STEM Forum & Expo is sponsored by NSTA (National Science Teachers Association), so I knew it was a longshot-- since I am not a "science" person. But we're so excited about the connections between science and poetry (thus, The Poetry Friday Anthology for Science), that we thought we'd give it a try. Well, we never heard from NSTA, so I figured it was not accepted. Oh well. But I thought I'd attend the conference anyway, since I'll already be in New Orleans (and I love that city). So I was browsing the conference schedule and as I scrolled through it, I saw MY NAME and my presentation listed! WHAT? We WERE accepted?! So, after a bit of scrambling Janet (Wong) and I were on board! In 30+ years of submitting proposals and planning presentations, that's a FIRST for me. But I'm still thrilled to get on the SCIENCE docket with our POETRY proposal! 


So, if you're going to the STEM Forum & Expo in New Orleans in mid-May, come to our session! Here's the lowdown:

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How is a Poet Like a Scientist? A + STEM Connects Literacy and Science

Linking poetry and science offers opportunities to develop both literacy and content knowledge with an interdisciplinary approach that integrates both NGSS and CCSS skills.

Presentation Description
Linking poetry and science offers opportunities to develop both literacy and science content knowledge with an interdisciplinary approach that integrates both NGSS and CCSS skills. Poetry provides cognitive transfer from concept to concept, deepens comprehension by providing vivid imagery and sensory language, and offers an emotional and experiential connection. In this session, participants will engage in poetry exploration activities that are standards-based, cross-curricular, and developmentally appropriate demonstrating how the Common Core State Standards intersect with the Next Generation Science Standards in grades K-5.

Poetry’s brevity, conceptual focus, and rich vocabulary make it a natural teaching tool for connecting with science, particularly in celebrating National Poetry Month each April. Infusing poetry into the science curriculum can serve to jump-start or introduce a topic, present examples of terminology or concepts, provide closure that is concept-rich, or extend a science topic further. As we consider the STEM components, we can build comprehension and engagement by incorporating the art (A) of poetry throughout the curriculum, right alongside science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. We can explore how poetry might work alongside other texts and experiences to help students understand our "technology-rich and scientifically complex world” so critical in the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).

Presenters:
Janet Wong
Sylvia Vardell

Tuesday, May 15
4:15-5:15 pm
Convention Center Room 220

We'll have books to give away, free stuff, and snacks! Come one, come all!


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30. IRA: How is a Poet Like a Scientist? Maximizing Teachable Moments in Both Reading and Science

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IRA New Orleans 2014

One more science + poetry connection-- I'll be presenting at the upcoming conference of the International Reading Association in New Orleans on Mother's Day (May 11 at 11am).  I have a fantastic panel of speakers and we're excited to talk about The Poetry Friday Anthology for Science and the cross-curricular potential of poetry of all kinds. Here's the lowdown. 

How is a Poet Like a Scientist? Maximizing Teachable Moments in Both Reading and Science

Linking reading and science offers opportunities to develop both comprehension skill and content knowledge and poetry is the perfect vehicle for capitalizing on those teachable moments of overlap and connection. Poetry provides cognitive transfer from concept to concept, deepens comprehension by providing vivid imagery and sensory language, and offers an emotional and experiential connection. In this session, participants will engage with poets themselves in poetry exploration activities that are skill-based, cross-curricular, sometimes bilingual, and developmentally appropriate demonstrating how reading intersects with the new Next Generation Science Standards in grades K-5.

Our Fabulous Presenters:
1.  Amy Ludwig VanDerwater
2.  Shirley Duke
3.  Eric Ode
4.  Vida Zuljevic
5.  Janet Wong
6.  Yours truly (Sylvia Vardell)

Program objectives:
1. Participants will be familiarized with the Next Generation Science Standards and how they intersect with developing reading in grades K-5.
2. Participants will be introduced to selected poets, poems, poetry books, and standards-based teaching strategies as well as relevant resources for integrating poetry into science instruction.
3. Participants will engage with poets themselves in examples of poetry exploration activities that are poem-specific, skill-based, cross-curricular, bilingual, and developmentally appropriate for each grade level (K-5), capitalizing on teachable moments for infusing literacy in science instruction and vice versa.

Evidence Base
Support for the multifaceted nature of sharing poetry is found in several reading theories and educational paradigms including Dowhower (1987), Rosenblatt (1978), Samuels (1979), and Schreiber (1980). More recently, Wilfong (2008) indicated that repeated reading of poetry improves fluency and attitudes toward reading. Through repeated immersion in poems, students increase sight word vocabulary and the ability to decode words quickly and accurately. In addition, the exposure to poetry allows students to use appropriate sentence phrasing, read punctuation markers, and read with greater ease. This fluent reading enables students to spend less time on decoding and have greater comprehension of the text (Pikulsi & Chard, 2005). According to Barbara Chatton (2010), poetry can also serve to integrate subject areas like science and reading by offering multiple opportunities for extending instruction.

• Poetry can provide cognitive transfer from concept to concept.
• Poetry deepens comprehension by providing another example of a concept.
• Poetry provides more personal connections.

The more connections we can provide between what children are learning in various areas of study, the deeper their learning will be. If poetry can be that vehicle for connecting books, skills, concepts, and information across the curriculum, we owe it to children to infuse poetry wherever we can.

Educational Significance
As Timothy V. Rasinski reminds us, despite the wonderful potential of poetry to explore language, it is one of the most often neglected components of the reading and language arts curriculum. Turning poetry into a shared experience can give poetry its rightful place in the reading-language arts curriculum providing practice for oral language development as well as a bridge to understanding content. Poetry often involves a high level of abstraction in language and ideas, and requires specific critical thinking skills and deeper comprehension. Infusing poetry across the curriculum can serve to jump-start or introduce a topic, present examples of terminology or concepts, provide closure that is concept-rich, or extend a topic further. Plus, there are many thematic poetry collections devoted to science-related subjects, such as animals, weather, seasons, space, dinosaurs, and geography, to name a few. Sharing science poetry titles in combination with a nonfiction work on the same topic, can model for students how information is presented in both prose or poetry. We can encourage children to think like a poet AND a scientist in carefully observing the world around them using all their senses, maintaining an avid curiosity about how things work, and gathering “big words” and key vocabulary in their reading and their writing.

Methods of Presenting
After laying the groundwork for the new Next Generation Science Standards, participants will hear from the poets themselves, as well as engage in poetry sharing that provide exposure to contemporary poems for children while integrating current principles of reading instruction, literacy building, cross-curricular connections, and science curriculum standards. This participatory session will incorporate print and digital media (including e-books) as well as audience engagement in strategies as they are demonstrated. Audience members will receive comprehensive bibliographies of books and recommended strategies. 

Presentation:
Sunday, May 11
11:00am - 1:00pm

There will be snacks, giveaways and door prize books! Come join us if you're attending the conference!

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31. Book Links: Nonfiction Monday meets Poetry Friday

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Recently I collaborated with friend, colleague and fellow blogger, Tricia Stohr-Hunt (of The Miss Rumphius Effect) on an article for ALA's Book Links magazine. We paired up to connect "Nonfiction Monday" and "Poetry Friday" to look at how we can link nonfiction and poetry to provide two perspectives on the same topic. There wasn't room for all our work in the April issue, so here is an extra bonus-- five more combinations of nonfiction and poetry books that treat the same topic, but in distinctly different ways, along with learning activities for classroom use on each topic. Enjoy!


Nonfiction Monday meets Poetry Friday
By Sylvia Vardell and Patricia Stohr-Hunt

Introduction
In the world of blogging about children’s literature (via Kidlitosphere.org and elsewhere), two major trends have emerged in the last decade: Nonfiction Monday and Poetry Friday. In each case, interested bloggers focus on one genre weekly in their posts and one of them volunteers to “round up” all the posts with links to each posting. Recently, Nonfiction Monday founder Anastasia Suen launched a group blog for corralling posts. Kelly Herold (of Big A, Little A) established the Poetry Friday tradition in 2006 and now Mary Lee Hahn at A Year of Reading manages the list of upcoming hosts. 

In each case, bloggers celebrate nonfiction and/or poetry by writing about nonfiction books and sharing them with children (on Monday) or sharing original poems, poetry book reviews and poetry news (on Friday). Many include book covers that are also shared on Pinterest. This provides an opportunity for readers to keep up with the latest in these two distinctive genres and learn about ways to connect with children’s lives and capitalize on teachable moments. Yes, of course we can share nonfiction and poetry on other days of the week too— but this is one way to make reading, responding to, and sharing of these genres intentional and not incidental. It can also be a model for classroom instruction, showcasing the latest nonfiction title in a Monday booktalk or incorporating poetry reading every Friday. 

Now let’s consider taking it one step further, linking these two genres together in creative ways. Pairing nonfiction and poetry may seem to be an unlikely partnership at first, but these two different genres can complement one another by showing children how writers approach the same topic in very different and distinctive ways. In addition, children will see that they can learn a lot of information from both a poem and a work of nonfiction. With the growing emphasis on comparing texts in the Common Core State Standards, linking these two genres offers a unique approach. You could begin by sharing the suggested nonfiction title and related activity on Monday and conclude with the suggested poetry title and activity on Friday, bookending your week with two genres linked by topic in connected, engaging ways. Here are a dozen pairs of related nonfiction and poetry books to get you started.

LEADERSHIP
1a. Nonfiction Monday
Life in the Ocean: The Story of Oceanographer Sylvia Earle. By Claire A. Nivola. Illus. by author. 2012. 32p. Farrar/Frances Foster, $17.99 (9780374380687). Gr. K-3.
This picture book biography of Sylvia Earle introduces readers to Earle's early life, her passion for the ocean, and her work in ocean exploration and advocacy. Nivola’s illustrations and text showcase Earle’s life work as well as the wonders of the ocean ecosystem.

In the Classroom: On one double-page spread in the book (pp.12-13), Nivola highlights in text and illustration all the ways that Earle pushed the boundaries of ocean exploration, always trying to dive deeper. Ask students to think about something they have an interest in and want to investigate more deeply. Have them draw a series of pictures like those created by Nivola that show what their pursuit of this interest might look like. Invite them to write short captions for each one.

1b. Poetry Friday
Dare to Dream… Change the World. Edited by Jill Corcoran. 2012. San Diego, CA: Kane Miller.
In this collection of biographical and inspirational poetry by thirty different poets, each pair of poems is inspired by someone whose actions made a difference, not only in their own lives, but also in the lives of people all over the world. Subjects form a culturally diverse mix ranging from Jonas Salk to Steven Spielberg, from Christa McAuliffe to Michelle Kwan, with brief descriptions of their lives included. 

In the Classroom: Share a few of the poems about inspirational people as another example of how information can be presented. Read aloud “My Polio Shot” by Janet Wong and “Jonas Salk Poem” by Elaine Magliaro while displaying the text of each poem. As students explore topics of special interest, drawing pictures, and writing captions to accompany those images, challenge them to turn their captions into free verse poems like those in Dare to Dream.

RESEARCH AND DISCOVERY
2a. Nonfiction Monday
Barnum’s Bones: How Barnum Brown Discovered the Most Famous Dinosaur in the World. By Tracey Fern. Illus. by Boris Kulikov. 2112. 40p. Farrar/Margaret Ferguson, $17.99 (9780374305161). Gr. 1-4. 
This picture book biography of Barnum Brown introduces readers to Brown, a young boy with a love for fossils who grew up to make extraordinary finds, including the first documented T. Rex skeleton, as a paleontologist for the American Museum of Natural History. 

In the Classroom: The American Museum of Natural History maintains archival copies of field notebooks from paleontological expeditions. What do you think Brown’s notebook might have look like? Visit the site (research.amnh.org/paleontology/notebooks/index.html) and take a look at some of Brown’s notebook entries. Field notebooks today look very different. Have students create their own field notebooks where they record observations, produce drawings/illustrations, determine relatedness among species (classification), and develop questions about the plants and animals they find in studying the schoolyard.

2b. Poetry Friday
The Robin Makes a Laughing Sound. By Sallie Wolf. 2010. Charlesbridge.
Wolf has been a bird-watcher and journal keeper since childhood and this book reflects her careful observations, notes, sketches, paintings, and poems about her neighborhood birds, particularly robins.

In the Classroom: Share a different kind of notebook, the chronological poems, notes, and paintings through the seasons that Wolf presents as she observes the robins and other birds in her area. Read aloud a few poems from the beginning, middle, and end of the book. Talk about how notebooks can form the basis of research, nonfiction writing, fiction writing or poetry writing. Select one entry from their student-created notebooks and write a collaborative poem together gleaned from those words.

DREAMING BIG
3a. Nonfiction Monday
Balloons Over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade. By Melissa Sweet. Illus. by author. 2011. 40p. Houghton, $16.99 (9780547199450). Gr. K-2.
This picture book biography of Tony Sarg introduces readers to the man who created floats and costumes for the first Macy’s day parade in 1924, and four years later developed the balloons that would fly over the parade. 

In the Classroom: The final endpapers of the book provide a copy of a1933 newspaper advertising the parade and Sarg’s balloons. Using pictures of recent parade balloons, ask students to write their own headline for the parade and describe the balloons using descriptive and/or figurative language.

3b. Poetry Friday
The World’s Greatest: Poems. By J. Patrick Lewis. Illus. by Keith Graves. 2008. San Francisco: Chronicle.
Lewis showcases the weird and wonderful in two dozen poems about unusual record setters like the most cobras kissed, the biggest pumpkin, and the tallest scarecrow.

In the Classroom: Read aloud a sampling of poems such as “The Tallest Roller Coaster” and talk about how people can pursue all kinds of records and dreams, much like Tony Sarg’s work with puppets and parade balloons. Inflate a balloon and encourage students to write a dream or goal they have on a strip of paper and attach these to the balloon’s “tail” with string or yarn. 

DRAWING AND WRITING
4a. Nonfiction Monday
Can We Save the Tiger? By. Martin Jenkins. Illus. by Vicky White. 2011. 56p. Candlewick, $16.99 (9780763649098). Gr. 3-6.
Why are animals endangered or extinct? Through oil-and-pencil illustrations and highly informative text, readers learn about 28 different animals and how humans have adversely affected the environment and these species.  

In the Classroom: Vicky White earned a degree in natural history illustration and has traveled the world to draw and paint animals in the wild. This means her illustrations are more likely to be scientifically accurate. Select an illustration from the book and generate a list of details. What can you learn from the illustrations that is not expressly mentioned in the text?

4b. Poetry Friday
The Arrow Finds its Mark: A Book of Found Poems. Edited by Georgia Heard. Illus. by Antoine Guilloppe. 2012. New York: Macmillan.
This collection highlights the form of “found” poetry—in which poets take existing words, phrases, and sentences from one source and then refashion them as poems. Heard includes 40 different found poems by a variety of contemporary poets based on all kinds or sources from book spines to menus to dictionaries to calendars. 

In the Classroom: Share a sampling of “found” poems based on newspaper articles and calendar text such as “Breaking, From Norway” by Naomi Shihab Nye, “Artist’s Advice” by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, and “Song of the Earth” by Joyce Sidman. Talk about how each poet selected, arranged, and rearranged the words from one source to create something new—a found poem. Challenge students to work with a partner, choosing one of the 28 animals presented by Jenkins, and then rewrite a paragraph or page of text about their chosen animal as a “found” poem.

FOOD AND EATING
5a. Nonfiction Monday
Eat Like a Bear. By April Pulley Sayre. Illus. and by Steve Jenkins. 2013. 32p. Holt, $16.99 (9780805090390). Gr. PreK-3.
This lyrical text follows a bear upon waking in April and eating through to fall such things as horsetails, dandelions, ants, trout, squirrel, moths, huckleberries and more. Full from months of eating, bear finally settles down to hibernate.

In the Classroom: Sayre’s text is filled with synonyms for the action of finding and eating food. Reread the text and compile a list of these words with students. Discuss the differences among words like gnaw, tear, chomp, etc. Generate a list of the foods the bear ate and write some synonyms to further describe how she might do it.

5b. Poetry Friday
What’s for Dinner? Quirky, Squirmy Poems from the Animal World. By Katherine Hauth. 2011. Watertown: MA: Charlesbridge.
More than two dozen different animals are described in poems focusing on what they eat, from the snake-eating hawk to the polar bear’s diet of seals, birds, and plants. Interesting endnotes for each animal complement the poems.

In the Classroom: Read aloud the poem, “Eating Words” and talk about the labels used to categorize animals and what they eat: insectivores, carnivores, herbivores, and omnivores. Make a simple chart with four columns, one for each of these. Place the bear in the proper category and share additional poems (and endnotes), categorizing each animal by what it eats.

Sylvia M. Vardell is a professor of children’s and young adult literature at Texas Woman’s University and the author of this Poetry for Children blog.

Patricia M. Stohr-Hunt is chair of the education department at the University
of Richmond, Virginia and the author of the blogs The Miss Rumphius Effect

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32. NSTA article: Observe, Explain, Connect


As I bring this look at science and poetry to a close, I'm so please to announce that Janet (Wong) and I had an article about this topic published in the April/May issue of Science and Children, the journal of the National Science Teachers Association. It's entitled "Observe, Explain, Connect" and appears on pages 31-35. 

It's widely available (for free). For example, you should be able to read a digital version of this issue at the NSTA site here

Our article begins:

"In his article “Physics And Poetry: Can You Handle The Truth?” astrophysicist Adam Frank (2013) revealed, “Poems and poetry are, for me, a deep a form of knowing, just like science … each, in its way, is a way to understand the world.” Poets and scientists both seek to observe, explain, and understand the world around them. Poetry’s brevity, conceptual focus, and rich vocabulary make it a natural teaching tool for connecting with science, particularly in celebrating National Poetry Month each April and “Poem in Your Pocket” day, April 24, 2014 (see Internet Resources). Akerson (2002) reminds us: the “processes of science and literacy learning are similar and may help the development of each discipline.” She goes on to observe: “using an interdisciplinary strategy can help meet state and national science objectives in a way that supports language arts” (p. 22)."

and ends:

The more connections we can provide between what children are learning in science and what literacy skills they need to be successful, the deeper their learning of both will be. If poetry can be that vehicle for connecting skills, concepts, and information across the science curriculum, we owe it to children to infuse poetry wherever we can. In sharing science-focused poetry, we can encourage children to think like a poet AND a scientist carefully observing the world around them using all their senses, maintaining an avid curiosity about how things work, and gathering “big words” and key vocabulary in their reading and their writing. As Albert Einstein reminds us, “Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.”

It's been so interesting to dig into this interdisciplinary intersection of science and poetry. The 78 poets who contributed to The Poetry Friday Anthology for Science really stepped up to create poems that captured an array of science topics. And as we dug deep into the "Next Generation Science Standards," we examined quite a range of science skills in various sub-disciplines of science. Matching poems to topics and then creating "Take 5" mini-lessons really stretched our science knowledge. THEN, to have our work validated by the National Science Teachers Association-- that was the icing on the cake! 

We hope this helps science teachers consider the power of poetry as they plan rich science lessons. And we hope reading and language arts teachers will feel more comfortable talking about science topics as they introduce these poems. It's win-win all around! 





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33. Poet Laureate "Pick" and "Poetry Minute"


I am so pleased to announce that my latest collaboration with Janet Wong (and 77 other poets), The Poetry Friday Anthology for Science, has been selected as the Children's Poet Laureate Monthly Book Pick for April 2014. The Children's Poet Laureate, Kenn Nesbitt, highlights a different book of poetry each month. You'll find this and all his monthly "picks" at the Poetry Foundation website here.


Kenn has also initiated the Poetry Minute website, featuring a poem-a-day for sharing with children. This includes the full text of a different poem every day, along with information about the poet and her/his work. There'a a lovely variety of poems and poets piling up there! 

Check it out!


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34. PFAS: “Hurricane Hideout” by Janet Wong


This is the last of my student-created poem movies for poetry from The Poetry Friday Anthology for ScienceKate L. uses weather news images and hurricane sound effects to make Janet Wong’s poem “Hurricane Hideout” really come to life.

Watch it here.

You’ll find this poem in the 4th grade section of The Poetry Friday Anthology for Science in Week 18: Forces of Nature.


Thank you to each of my students for their creative work in using technology to showcase a poem. Thank you to the poets who allowed us to use their poems for our projects. And thank you, readers, for your comments and responses. We've had fun with this project and hope you'll try something similar with the students you work with. It's something kids can try with their favorite poems, too. 

For the last few days of April, I'll be highlighting a few other poetry-plus-science nuggets, just to round out the month. Wishing you all a Happy Poetry Month! 

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35. PFAS: “Welcome to the Science Lab” by Heidi Bee Roemer

Sylvia D. highlights “Welcome to the Science Lab” by Heidi Bee Roemer in her simple poem movie slideshow below. She even incorporates factual information alongside the poem text.




You’ll find this poem in the 5th grade section of The Poetry Friday Anthology for Science in Week 2: Lab Safety.


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36. PFAS: “Moving for Five Minutes Straight” by Betsy Franco

Leslie W. incorporates videoclips of kids exercising in perfect correspondence with the poem’s lines for her movie version of “Moving for Five Minutes Straight” by Betsy Franco.

Watch it here.

You’ll find this energetic poem in the 4th grade section of The Poetry Friday Anthology for Science in Week 25: The Human Body.



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37. PFAS: “Water Round” by Leslie Bulion


Jeni T. has created an amazing poem movie for Leslie Bulion’s poem, “Water Round.” She weaves together images of water in its many forms along with subtle background music and water noises to great effect.

Check it out here.


You’ll find this poem in the 2nd grade section of The Poetry Friday Anthology for Science in Week 16: The Water Cycle.


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38. PFAS: “Testing My Hypothesis” by Leslie Bulion

Melissa P. uses images of kids and cats and blankets along with appealing background music to act out the story within the poem, “Testing My Hypothesis” by Leslie Bulion. 

Click here to watch it now.


You’ll find this fun poem in the 3rd grade section of The Poetry Friday Anthology for Science in Week 5: Predictions & Hypotheses.


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39. PFAS: “Climate vs. Weather” by Joan Bransfield Graham

Lauren S. has gotten children involved in reading aloud the poem for her movie adaptation of Joan Bransfield Graham’s poem, “Climate vs. Weather.”

Look for it here.


You’ll find this interesting poem in the 5th grade section of The Poetry Friday Anthology for Science in Week 17: Weather & Climate.


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40. PFAS: “Teacher’s Look” by Shirley Smith Duke

Cara S. uses images of hands and pens and a frowning teacher along with fun background sound effects to tell the story behind Shirley Smith Duke’s poem, “Teacher’s Look.”

Check it out here (below).


You’ll find this engaging poem in the 5th grade section of The Poetry Friday Anthology for Science in Week 13: Light & Sound.


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41. PFAS: “Dinos in the Laboratory” by Kristy Dempsey

Sarah S. uses story-like LEGO images and fun dino “roar” sound effects to dramatize Kristy Dempsey’s clever poem, “Dinos in the Laboratory.” 

Check it out here.


You’ll find this clever poem in the 4th grade section of The Poetry Friday Anthology for Science in Week 2: Lab Safety.


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42. PFAS: “Albert Einstein” by Julie Larios

Emma R. has created the next poem movie, complete with kids chiming in on the final word. Plus she includes kid comments and another reading of the poem along with the text of the poem. 

Click here to see Emma's video for “Albert Einstein” by Julie Larios.


Look for this poem in the 4th grade section of The Poetry Friday Anthology for Science in Week 31: Famous Scientists.

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43. PFAS: “Seeing School” by Kate Coombs


Watch for the ending image of the smiling girl with glasses in this fun poem movie created by Shelly P. for “Seeing School” by Kate Coombs.

Click here now.


You’ll find this poem in Week 25 in the 1st Grade section of The Poetry Friday Anthology for Science.


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44. PFAS: “Playground Physics” by Jeannine Atkins

Crystal A uses real children in videos of playground scenes in her poem movie for "Playground Physics" by Jeannine Atkins.


Click here to watch it now.



Look for this poem in The Poetry Friday Anthology for Science in Fifth grade, Week 4.

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45. PFAS: “Superhero Scientist” by Joan Bransfield Graham

Danielle D uses techno-music and fun images of science lab equipment to animate Joan Bransfield Graham's poem, "Superhero Scientist." 

Click here to watch this poem video.



Look in Kindergarten, Week 2 in The Poetry Friday Anthology for Science for the "Take 5" activities that accompany this poem.

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46. PFAS: "Discovery/Descubrimiento" by Margarita Engle

I am so pleased that several bilingual poems (in Spanish and English) are featured in The Poetry Friday Anthology for Science. And I was so gratified that Patrina G chose one of those bilingual poems for her poetry movie project,"Discovery/Descumbrimiento" by Margarita Engle. Plus, she even offers a reading of the poem in both English and Spanish in her video.


Watch it by clicking here. 



Look for this poem in The Poetry Friday Anthology for Science, Second Grade, Week 4.

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47. PFAS: “This Week’s Weather” by Janet Wong

Tammy G. chose "This Week's Weather" by Janet Wong for her poem movie creation and even included a weather reporter!

Watch her movie by clicking here.




Check out The Poetry Friday Anthology for Science, Third Grade, Week 17.

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48. PFAS: “Food for Thought” by Robyn Hood Black

Vanessa D. features “Food for Thought” by Robyn Hood Black in her poem movie project. But don’t watch this if you’re hungry—there are heaps of food pictures!

Watch the video now by clicking here.


You’ll find this poem in 4th grade, Week 26 in The Poetry Friday Anthology for Science




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49. PFAS: “Sound Waves at Breakfast” by Susan Marie Swanson


Today Nancy D. features “Sound Waves” by Susan Marie Swanson. I think she really captures the spirit of the poem with her great sound effects and kids chiming in on key words. Check it out.

Click here to watch and listen.


You’ll find this poem in 2nd grade, Week 13 in The Poetry Friday Anthology for Science


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50. PFAS: “Let’s All Be Scientists” by Renee M. LaTulippe

Today Melinda L. features “Let’s All Be Scientists” by Renee M. LaTulippe. I think she really captures the spirit of the poem with her nature images and jaunty background music. Plus she includes a second reading by children, too! Check it out.

Click here.



You’ll find this poem in 2nd grade, Week 1 in The Poetry Friday Anthology for Science


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